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The 100 Best Children’s Books of the 20th Century
Here, listed by category, title, author and illustrator is our list of the century’s best children’s books. The list, put together over several months, represents the views of parents, children’s literature experts and our readers. While not every classic is listed – and we may have left out a favorite of yours – these are the books that strike a special chord and stay with us through adulthood. For books that have a separate illustrator, we’ve listed the illustrator’s name after the author, separated by a slash.

Nonfiction/Poetry
Books for Babies
Picture Books
Chapter Books

Nonfiction/Poetry


MILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Cathedral, by David Macaulay


MILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Great Yellowstone Fire, by Carole G. Vogel and Kathryn A. Goldner


MILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris/Michael Emberley


MILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein


Lincoln: A Photobiography, by Russell Freedman




Magic School Bus (series), by Joanna Cole/Bruce Degen


The New Kid on the Block, by Jack Prelutsky


Tales of Uncle Remus, retold by Julius Lester/Jerry Pinkney


Talking Like the Rain (anthology), by Dorothy and X.J. Kennedy


What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? by Jean Fritz


The Wright Brothers, by Russell Freedman


You Be Good and I’ll Be Night, by Eve Merriam

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Books for Babies


Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown/Clement Hurd


Have You Seen My Duckling?, by Nancy Tafuri


Pippo (series), by Helen Oxenbury


Spot (series), by Eric Hill






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Ten, Nine, Eight, by Molly Bang


26 Letters and 99 Cents, by Tana Hoban


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Picture Books


Alfie (series), by Shirley Hughes


Arthur (series), by Marc Brown


Babar (series), by Jean De Brunhoff


Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban/Lillian Hoban


A Chair for My Mother, by Vera Williams


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr./Lois Ehlert




tyle: normal">Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes


tyle: normal">The Crack-of-Dawn Walkers, by Amy Hest/Amy Schwartz


tyle: normal">Doctor DeSoto, by William Steig


tyle: normal">Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant


tyle: normal">Frog and Toad (series), by Arnold Lobel


tyle: normal">Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson


tyle: normal">Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, by Eric Kimmel/Trina Schart Hyman


tyle: normal">A Hole is to Dig, by Ruth Krauss/Maurice Sendak


tyle: normal">Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss


tyle: normal">If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff/Felicia Bond


tyle: normal">Jumanji, by Chris Van Allsburg


tyle: normal">Lon Po Po, by Ed Young


tyle: normal">Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans




Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey


Martha Speaks, by Susan Meddaugh


Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton


Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag


Miss Nelson is Missing!, by Harry Allard/James Marshall


Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney


The Mitten, by Jan Brett


Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, by John Burningham


The Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall


Peter Rabbit (the Tales of), by Beatrix Potter


The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg


Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr




SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats


SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf/Robert Lawson


SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Story of Holly and Ivy, by Rumer Godden


SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle


SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak


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Chapter Books


SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Afternoon of the Elves, by Janet Taylor Lisle


SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Anastasia Krupnik, by Lois Lowry


SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery


SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume


SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Borrowers (series), by Mary Norton


SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier




mal>The Devil’s Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen


mal>Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers


mal>The Friendship, by Mildred Taylor


mal>The Giver, by Lois Lowry


mal>The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson


mal>Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh


mal>Hatchet, by Gary Paulson


mal>Henry and Mudge (series), by Cynthia Rylant/Sucie Stevenson


mal>Homer Price (series), by Robert McCloskey


mal>The Indian in the Cupboard (series), by Lynne Reid Banks


mal>Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell


mal>James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl




Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Narnia series), by C.S. Lewis


Little House (series), by Laura Ingalls Wilder


The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery


M.C. Higgins the Great, by Virginia Hamilton


Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli


Memory, by Margaret Mahy


Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry


One-Eyed Cat, by Paula Fox


The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton


Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie


The Pigman, by Paul Zindel




rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander


rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Ramona (series), by Beverly Cleary


rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Redwall (series), by Brian Jacques


rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan


rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor


rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Stone Fox, by John Reynolds Gardiner


rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Story of Dr. Doolittle, by Hugh Lofting


rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">The Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars


rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt


rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls




The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Frank L. Baum

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

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See also: Read-Aloud Tips

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